Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ruminating on the count

Is the story of The Count of Monte Cristo one about revenge? Or is it about justice? Well, it does start out as a novel wherein one character plans his revenge on a few people who were responsible for his being in prison for several years. And then it ends with the characters getting what I think they should deserve, so there's that justice component. But I think that The Count of Monte Cristo works best as an adventure story.

I loved every minute I spent reading this 1,000+ page door stop of a novel. And it was quite enjoyable keeping track of the several characters Dumas introduces in this work. It's epic, I'm telling you, dear reader. And reading it is akin to getting shots of adrenaline every now and then. Yes, it's a book with caffeine that seems never to let up.

Most readers would feel daunted by the heft. But the effort is truly worth it. I like that it also somehow gives you a history lesson on France during the time of Napoleon, and its depiction of French society in the mid 1850s is fascinating. I never knew that so much financial aspects go into one's marriage, to the point that the families involve would compute for the exact amount the families would be getting from the marriage.

It's a good thing that I've never seen a movie adaptation of this book, so I have no expectations whatsoever. Reading it is more or less similar to watching a daytime soap, complete with all the betrayals and the backstabbing and the fainting ladies and the hissy fits. Ah, The Count of Monte Cristo is melodrama in its finest form!

One of the criticisms against this book is that it apparently has very weak female characters. I think that this book doesn't have these characters because it really was a product of its time. Women were just seen as individuals raised to be pretty and to get married to somebody preferably with position and money. But there's one interesting female character in this novel though, and that's Eugenie, who does get what she wants in the end, which is to get the hell out of the circus that is French society.

And other criticism is that some chapters seem contrived and some situations tend to be too convenient for the reader's taste. I agree. The scene where Abbe Faria discovers who specifically betrayed Edmond Dantes comes off as a bit iffy. And the count does seem to be in the right pages at the right time. But what the hey, I just went with it. It was a great ride, and one that I'd like to take again soon.

Now I'm curious. Is The Three Musketeers as thrilling as this one? Would Dumas's other works be loosely based on real-life events like the one in The Count of Monte Cristo? There's only one way to find out, no?

Read this book if:

  1. You never feel daunted by French door stoppers.
  2. You just can't say no a classic adventure story.
  3. You love melodrama in your novels.


Anonymous said...

i asked my bestfriend to give me a copy of the count of monte cristo and the three musketeers as her graduation gift to me...

i prefer the former though...

-the geek

Peter S. said...

Hello, the geek! You're so lucky to have a friend like that!

Ryan said...

I loved this book when I was younger but have not read it in many, many years. I wonder if I wouls still enjoy it as much.

Peter S. said...

I think you'd still enjoy it, Ryan!